Mayor Bill de Blasio: Well, good morning, everybody. New York City continues on our road back. New York City, every day, taking step after step as we fight back this disease and we start to bring back our economy and our lives. And really, again, I'll say it every single time. The credit goes to all of you who have done such a remarkable job, doing what we needed to do to fight back this disease. And you're going to see, once again, with the day's indicators that it's working. So, a lot is happening now, a lot of work being done as we speak to get things ready for the start of school, good work being done by thousands and thousands of City employees to get everything ready for our kids. So much other important work going on. We see real progress – again, businesses bringing back more employees, museums opening up, our youth sports leagues opening up, so many things that show little by little we're taking those steps in the right direction.
We won't send off the layoff notices today, but each day we will reassess, because we have to address our fiscal crisis. Again, no one wants to see a single layoff, but we have to address our fiscal crisis. So, I am hoping that this pause will lead to more progress in Albany because of the intense commitment of labor to getting this done. And I want to say, in the last few days, we've seen more and more signs of support for long-term borrowing. I want to thank our colleagues in the City Council. They're preparing to vote on a resolution in support of long-term borrowing in a matter of days. I want to thank Speaker Cory Johnson and UFT President Michael Mulgrew – they authored an op-ed recently in the Daily News, making the case for long-term borrowing. Many, many unions have been reaching out to Albany, telling them how important it is for New York City, but not just from New York City – the New York State Association of Counties has weighed in and made so clear that all over New York State there are localities that need help with long-term borrowing, given this horrible, horrible reality thrown at us by a pandemic no one ever expected. So, we'll pause now, and we'll do the work together to convince Albany that we need them. We need them to step up and pass long-term borrowing. That's what would avert the layoffs instantly and that's what we’ll be working on over these next few days.
Now, while we're doing this work to try and preserve our workforce, to try and protect the services that people need, try and keep our budget strong. There's so many other things we have to do at the same time, all in the midst of this incredibly challenging moment in history. So, what we do every day, of course, number-one concern every day is a health and safety of all New Yorkers. And when we focus on public safety, we do it in a way that regards both the importance of protecting people's lives and the importance of bringing police and community together. I've said literally since the time I ran for mayor that safety and fairness must walk hand in hand.
So, today, where we are publishing our response to this pledge, that specific actions will be taken, and among those actions are new initiatives to bring the voices of the people of this city into our police academy as our recruits are being trained and as our officers are being retrained to literally bring neighborhood voices in as part of the training process; to have local efforts with community committees to develop new policies that will work for police and community alike, to have a deeper dialogue to change some of the ways we do things so that everyone can work better together; to use CompStat in new ways – CompStat has been the underpinning of our success now for a quarter-century in fighting back crime, but CompStat can be used in so many powerful ways to also measure how the NYPD is doing and its relationship with communities and how to improve that relationship. And crucially, we will be publishing a disciplinary matrix – and this is a big step forward for transparency, accountability – user-friendly data that will allow a clear understanding of how we are approaching discipline. We want discipline to be a very straightforward matter. We want it to be clear that when certain actions are taken and certain mistakes are made that there will be accountability. And it is so important for the public trust in our police – and that we've proven over the last seven years – when that trust grows, when that relationship grows, as it has in the city so many times, it allows us all to be safer. The matrix will be publicly available today at nyc.gov/nypdmatrix. There'll be a public comment period of one month and that information we get back from the public comment period will lead to the finalization of the policy. But the bottom line is this, the NYPD every day does an extraordinary job protecting the people in New York City. The NYPD has also shown its ability to change and reform, and more change reform is needed. The culture of policing needs continued improvement. That is something obvious, but we can simultaneously say that we appreciate that the vast majority of officers are in this work for a profound reason – they want to help people, they want to protect people. We need to make sure that the culture of policing continues to improve as well to be just as good as the motivation that led so many people into this crucial work. And these measures will help us take an important step forward.
I want to now turn to our Police Commissioner, who has, over his last seven years, continued to improve this department – whatever title he held, continued the effort to make the Department both better at protecting New Yorkers and better at listening to the people in the city and working with them and respecting their rights. Now, I‘ll turn to our Commissioner Dermot Shea.
Police Commissioner Dermot Shea: Thank you, Mr. Mayor, I have to give some credit to Jimmy O'Neill, the former police commissioner. If you think back a couple of years, when he empaneled and asked for outside experts to come in and take a look at our discipline process – the Blue Ribbon Panel, as it was called – when you look at the Obama pledge and many of the concerns and the Blue Ribbon Panel, there's a tremendous amount of overlap here. And the good news is that many of the items that are contained in the pledge we've been committed to doing for several years now. The Mayor mentioned the discipline matrix, which I can tell you has been worked on for approximately 12 months now. It went online today. I encourage everyone to go to the NYPD’s outward facing website, and you could read all about the matrix. And it's correct – there is a 30-day period where we're asking for the public's comments on this. And that's something that seems intuitive, but it hasn't always been done. But it's something we truly believe in, in terms of knowing who you work for – and we work for the public – and asking them for their comments. What can we do better? What do you think about particular aspects of the discipline matrix? And hearing their perspective – and hearing is the keyword there. We anticipate taking those results in, we've already consulted with experts in nearly every field. We’ve examined other matrixes that exist across the country in law enforcement's major departments. We feel good about the matrix. I can tell you that I've sat around a boardroom many times discussing this matrix, and there are always heated discussions about different things. It's very detailed, but I am very curious how the public comment session will be, and we expect it to be finalized by this coming January.
None of this is new to what we're trying to do. If you look at our NYPD outward facing website, again, you'll see a new page that's gone up probably the last month, maybe three weeks, explaining what we do. I think that's my key takeaway, whether it's the Obama pledge, whether it's the Blue Ribbon Panel. One of the key points to Blue Ribbon Panel said was the NYPD has a strong discipline system. It's not perfect, but it's strong, and we do a lot of things well. What we did not do well was tell others what we do, and that transparency aspect is behind a lot of what we're doing. And about, as I said, three weeks ago, we started putting more and more information up on that outward facing page, telling people about our discipline process, telling people and giving them examples of how seriously we treat discipline in many cases. And we think that that will, as the Mayor alluded to, continue to build trust. And trust at this point is critical.
Mayor: Thank you very much, Commissioner. And Commissioner, I appreciate the fact that it has been a long and ongoing effort to continue always looking for the next reform that's needed, the next way of bringing police and community together. And I think the last point the Commissioner made is crucial – it's important to show the work that's going on every day. That’s something we want to do more and more effectively, because everyone understands the way forward for the city is with police and community working hand in hand. And I think the items in the Obama pledge will help us to take that big step forward for the city.
Now, let me turn you to another crucial matter – obviously, less than two weeks until the beginning of school. So much work going on – we've talked about all of the work that's happened since June by our custodial engineers in the schools, the School Construction Authority, Division of School Facilities at DOE – so many thousands of people working together to get our schools ready, June, July, August – now, as we get ready for September. So, to-date 1,321 school buildings have been inspected. And that is about 88 percent of the buildings that needed an inspection. We will be continuing those inspections today and tomorrow, and then we will have gotten through the entire school system. We'll be publishing the results of the inspections on a rolling basis to update parents and the community on where each school stands. So far, what we're seeing is overwhelmingly, because of the hard work that's been happening over the last three months, that schools are ready. But we'll be very clear if there's any specific school with ongoing work that needs to be done, any even individual classroom that has work that needs to be done. And we'll be publishing that shortly.
Now, we're also moving ahead in some other key areas. Last week, we talked about the outdoor learning plans. The response from principals was outstanding. So many of them had ideas ready to go. And I want to make really clear that principals at any point can put in an outdoor learning plan. We said to them, any plan that was put in last week will get an answer by this week, but they are invited to continue to put in plans at any point. So far, 247 schools have had their outdoor learning plans approved. And again, that will be on a rolling basis. And another ongoing effort that started in the spring, but it will continue, is to make sure that all children who need devices to participate in the remote learning that they'll be involved in, whether it's in a blended learning format or all remote format, we want to make sure that every child that needs technology gets it, who needs internet service gets it. So far, in the New York City public schools, 324,000 iPads have been distributed for free to kids who need them. And that distribution will continue as there are needs. We want to make sure our children get what they need and get it quickly.
So, we continue this work every day with the folks working in the buildings, with our administrators, with our educators, with our custodial teams, with our building staff, the food service staff, you name it, everyone's in this together and we are working constantly with the unions that represent the people that do the work. We're all working to resolve issues and get ready for what will be one of the most pivotal school years – I think, the most pivotal school year in the history of New York City, and we have to get it right for everyone.
Let's talk about our indicators. Number one, daily number of people admitted to New York City hospitals for suspected COVID-19, threshold is 200 patients. Today's report, 47 patients – that's one of the lowest we've seen in months. And the positivity rate among those patients, 12.5 percent. Indicator number two, new reported cases on a seven-day average, that threshold 550 cases. Today's report, 222. And number three, percentage of people testing citywide positive for COVID-19, threshold five percent. Today's report, again, one of our lowest, 0.59 percent. Again, outstanding work by New Yorkers now as we come off the summer and move into the fall, double down on those efforts to stay safe because they are clearly working. And we can get safer – I want to drive that infection rate down much further, because we'll be able to do more and more and open up more and more as we do that. So, it's not just stay the course, it's double down. Let's go farther at making this city safe.